landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
— The Michigan Daily (@michigandaily) September 22, 2014
COKEAGGEDDON. Well, it happened, and they quickly ran out of tickets, and the athletic department said that shouldn't have happened like a robot programmed to impersonate a human, and now it's over. The robot bit:
Coke is a great partner of ours and had purchased a limited block of tickets for the Minnesota game for a Coke retail activation aimed at Michigan students.
What I would give for an athletic department that responded to things like this without resorting to the nonsense phrase "retail activation." The program was "pulled immediately" after the Union had already run out, ie, not pulled. There's the silver lining: Michigan tickets are still worth more than two dollars.
As per usual when these things happen, the cover-up is worse than the crime. The pattern: Michigan does something stupid or embarrassing or annoying or all three. People laugh or complain about it. Michigan releases a mendacious statement that blames someone else for the screw up, wonders why everyone is making a big deal about it, and says it was never their intent for stupid/embarrassing/annoying thing to happen. Two months later, repeat the process.
The list is getting long: running out of water after banning outside bottles because terrorists, Allstate field goal nets, enormous macaroni sculpture, seat cushions, sky-writing over Spartan Stadium, telling people they got a discount on their hockey season tickets when really they moved a Michigan State game to Chicago, and Cokeaggeddon. Nobody apologized for "In The Big House," but they damn well should have.
I would prefer an athletic department that knew enough about how thing were going to look to a persnickety fanbase to not have issues like this on the regular. I would even more strongly prefer a department that didn't go "nuh-uh" when people called them on their crap.
Backhanded compliment battle royal. Man are people saying some things about Hoke these days that they mean to be nice but come off not so nice. Mark Dantonio:
Dantonio on turmoil in Ann Arbor: "I don't think there's a bad football coach out there. ...I have a lot of respect for Brady."
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) September 23, 2014
Dantonio followed that up by responding "I have empathy for people" when some reporter asked him if he had empathy for what's going on at Michigan. If our athletic department is going to be a robot can it be a Dantonio-style killer robot at least?
I HAVE EMPATHY FOR PEOPLE
/hail of gunfire
And then Dennis Norfleet was getting his coach's back when this came out and got on the internet the wrong way:
"In life, he's a good coach," Norfleet on Hoke
— Max Cohen (@MaxACohen) September 23, 2014
I know he didn't mean it like that but it's hard not to read it like that, you know?
Shades of the late RR period. Old pissed-off alums are coming out of the woodwork to yell on the talk radio. Former Bo QB Michael Taylor is up:
"Michigan football is not going in the right direction," said Taylor, who played for UM from 1987-89. "The leadership is bad. There are many more issues on and off the field than I care to talk about. It's sad." …
"What we've become is a propaganda football team, telling people how great we are when we're mediocre," he said.
Taylor has had an axe to grind for a while, FWIW. Hard to disagree with the last bit even so.
While Taylor's naplam job was widely reported the News is the only outlet I've seen that noted anything about Jon Jansen's immediately subsequent appearance. Jansen is on some sort of former players' committee, and says this about Taylor's complaint that players are being told to buy tickets if they want anything more than two per season (as in two tickets, total):
"It may not be the answer they're looking for, but we have started the process of getting a policy together for how many tickets you can get, how you get them, sideline passes," Jansen said. "That's the biggest thing — guys want to be able to come back."
IIRC, Taylor's beef with Brandon started when he further restricted tickets for former lettermen. It's not about "getting a policy" together. There is a policy. As per usual it prefers nickel and diming everyone to creating long-term allies.
More bloviation. Get ready for two and a half months of HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH posts that don't have much of anything behind them. PFT takes the lead:
…the speculation has been ongoing regarding the future of 49ers coach (and former Michigan quarterback) Jim Harbaugh for a while. Mired in a contractual impasse that has been tabled until after the season, any college or program now knows that Harbaugh is in play for a jump to a new job come 2015. With the 49ers already mired in a disappointing, stressful year, that jump could be more likely.
This gets everyone hot and bothered while not having a single quote or even a single assertion that a hot source told him something. Throw it on the bloviation pile. And reinforce the floor under that pile. It's about to get stressed.
The cycle is intact. Football team is bad at football. People say football team is bad at football. People say maybe football team would be better at football if this coach who seems to have a lot of bad football teams was no longer the coach. Media incessantly hammers coach and players at every media opportunity about The Critics, leading to people Taking A Stand Against The Critics and articles describing that event. Dennis Norfleet just did so.
If anyone thinks the massive public criticism being hurled at Brady Hoke on a now daily basis doesn't make its way into the ears of Michigan's players from time to time, then Dennis Norfleet has a message for you.
And they're pretty pissed about it.
Okay. I don't expect this conversation to go any other way, because Hoke has his team behind him and they would run through the proverbial wall for him, etc. I just don't see why anyone should care. It's all talk. Weren't we all like "I'm done with talk, show me" this offseason? We have been shown some things. Now there is talk about how bad the team is, and if you are mad at people talking about how bad Michigan football is currently I don't know what to tell you.
This is just not realistic:
"Even if we lose. If we lose, if you're a Michigan fan you're supposed to be with us 100 percent to pick us up. We need our fans just as much as we need a win. So, yes, it hurts. It hurts a lot."
It is impossible to control the emotional impulses of large groups of people, and fans are in this for themselves. They like the players, they want the players to succeed, they generally refrain from harsh personal criticism of the players. They are there to feel something, however, and when the only thing they feel is certainty Michigan is not going to make up yet another double-digit deficit they're going to talk about replacing the coach. Because that is the logical thing to do if your goals for a football team involve having a nice time with it.
That's the fundamental disconnect between fans and players and we can stop talking like any of these people have to have the same motivations. Or not, I suppose, because journalists are in this for themselves.
We're confusing to computers. Michigan has outgained every opponent en route to a 2-2 record with two blowout losses. The play-based ranking systems are having a bit of a conniption fit as a result:
— Bill Connelly (@SBN_BillC) September 22, 2014
Computer rankings after four weeks are never accurate but drive systems do take a lot more data than the final score into account and should be a bit more reliable as a result. It's just that sometimes not taking the final score into account particularly heavily is… unwise. Connelly on that:
On a per-play basis (in a system that counts turnovers simply as non-successes until drive data is factored in after seven weeks), they are good enough to rank 19th in the country, just one spot behind a team that beat them by 31 points and 11 spots ahead of a team that beat them by 16. But in ways similar to 2011 Texas A&M and 2011 Notre Dame, they're figuring out ways to make their failures count double, and it seems they (and their fans) know the failures are coming before they happen.
Seven of the next eight conference games are winnable, and eight are losable. We'll see if Hoke can figure out how to turn promise into reality, or if, like Texas A&M in 2011, it will take a new coach and a new quarterback to translate decent stats into good results.
He notes three teams with similar profiles to Michigan to date: 2011 versions of Notre Dame and Texas A&M and 2012 Michigan State.
Connelly and Brian Fremeau combine their ratings for something called F+ that is considerably more skeptical but still insufficiently so from the human observer's viewpoint. F+ has Michigan 32nd. Connelly used that to metric to project the Big Ten race and came up with this amazing possibility:
|Record||West Winner||East Winner|
There is a one in four chance that your Big Ten West winner is .500 in the conference. I think we can all agree that this annus miserabilis will be totally worth it if that happens.
As far as Michigan goes, he ran a bunch of simulations with his numbers and came out with an approximately 60% chance Michigan goes 4-4 in the league and 20% chances they go 5-3 or 6-2. Again, early season computer numbers so take lightly—suffice it to say computers are not feeling real good about Hoke's job prospects.
The wounded. Minnesota's Mitch Leidner still questionable for Saturday, "all indications" that Michigan will get the Gopher backup who completed one pass against SJSU. Maxxxxxxxx Williams is also doubtful with something or other. Against that Michigan puts up Jarrod Wilson and Raymon Taylor, who dressed but did not play against Utah, Delano Hill, who left before halftime with a boo boo, and an obviously still gimpy Devin Funchess. Funchess FWIW:
"I got a little dinged up, I had to make sure everything was OK, and I just had to fight through it," Funchess said Tuesday. "I knew it was painful (that day), and it'll (probably) be painful the rest of the season.
"You're never going to go through a season and stay 100 percent (the whole way) ... I'm healthy enough to play."
Sort of. His effort on blocks is not so good.
9/13/2014 – Michigan 34, Miami (Not That Miami) 10 – 2-1
Jake Ryan did a good job of not blowing up Hendrix for penalties [Eric Upchurch]
Michigan Stadium was a roomy place on Saturday, somewhat full of cranky people waiting for an opportunity to vent their ire. They held their fire after a Gardner interception; they held their fire when Michigan was tied 10-10 with a team that hadn't won a game since 2012 midway through the second quarter.
This was a bit of a surprise. Hell, the 1997 team(!) got booed at halftime of their game against Iowa when they went into the locker room down 21-7. (This was definitely performance-related, exacerbated by a late Tim Dwight punt return touchdown. The tenor of the boo was WE KNOW YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS LET'S GOOOO and when they came out of the locker room the corresponding cheer was much louder than it usually is. But damn we used to have some expectations.)
In 2014, after seven years of mostly unrelenting failure, on the heels of a humiliating shutout in the Last Notre Dame Game, I was expecting more audible grumbles. Michigan fans held off, possibly too stunned by last week to do anything but meekly absorb events in front of them.
Then Michigan took a delay of game penalty (after a timeout!) and decided to punt from the Miami 37 with a minute left in the half. This was pure coaching malpractice that reminded a grumbly Michigan Stadium of last year's Penn State game. The boos rained down. It was loud. It was grumbly. It was statistically accurate.
As the game rolled along and Michigan proved themselves about as superior as you'd think they should be, this game receded from the hateful constellation of lower-level matchups that turned into stomach-churning wins or even losses.
When you end up giving up fewer than 200 yards to an opposing offense you've established that they are very bad and you are not. Eventually Michigan's ground game kicked in and put up similar YOU ARE BAD numbers. Erase some pretty random turnovers (deflected pass at the line, redshirt freshman pop-up kickoff fumble) and this is 45-0 or thereabouts.
I know you don't believe turnovers are random, person on the internet who I am anticipating a "LOL" comment from, but even you have to admit that when a throw goes from probably on target to directly in the chest of an opposing player because it glances off a fingertip that's just life giving you the middle finger, and not—oh you just said MAKE PLAYS in seriousness on the radio nevermind this sentence. Players make plays. Etc.
Anyway: in retrospect I am not stressing about this game.
I was in the second quarter, like everyone else, and while I didn't actually boo—I am in the too-shocked-to-do-anything club—I agreed with it. What's more, I deeply appreciated that the people still mad enough to let someone know about it waited for the perfect moment.
When Pat Fitzgerald was asked about Northwestern fans being upset in the aftermath of the Wildcats' 0-2 start, he responded thusly.
This is a press conference answer to get behind. It is brief, quotable, and addresses the situation. Fitzgerald is not surprised that fans are upset; he is upset (he called the team "an embarrassment to anyone that ever put on the purple and white"); fans should be too.
When Brady Hoke was asked an open-ended question about his message to the fans, he said this:
As far as the fans that watch from the outside and see some of the similar issues that they saw last season, what would you say to them and how concerning is it as a coaching staff?
"If they’re truly fans they'll believe in these kids and what they've done and the hard work that they've put in. If they’re not, they won't."
To the great misfortune of someone whose words are repeated verbatim on the internet, he would later claim to be misquoted. At least he has been told that knocking the fans who pay his salary and are currently leaning towards "tar and feather" over "put FOR SALE signs on front lawn" is not great, Bob.
But he has succumbed to the post-9/11 Godwin's Law: eventually someone in charge of the troops is going to tell you to support the troops, because he thinks that's the best argument he's got left. You think knocking over tinpot dictators halfway across the world with no real hope of installing anything that won't collapse the minute you leave is a bad idea? Support the troops, buddy. Why don't you support the troops?
So kudos to Michigan Stadium for holding its fire until the guy on the sideline with the timeout blundered his way into a fourth and eleven punt that went into the endzone on the fly. It was 1000% clear who was and was not supported at that moment.
Michigan is at least tolerant of the troops even when they're struggling against Not That Miami. Michigan is pissed off at the guys in charge. No amount of deflection will hide that fact.
Brady Hoke Epic Double Points Of The Week. #1 is Derrick Green, who was often the recipient of gaping holes but hit them and even made some yards himself.
#2 is Jourdan Lewis, who turned in excellent coverage all day and came up with an excellent interception.
#3 is Brennen Beyer, because it is impossible to really distinguish between the various guys whipping up on Miami's OL but Beyer got a sack.
Epic Double Point Standings.
6: Devin Funchess (#1, APP, #1 ND)
3: Derrick Green(#1 MIA)
2: Devin Gardner (#2, APP), Willie Henry (#2 ND), Jourdan Lewis (#2 MIA)
1: Ryan Glasgow (#3, ND), Brennen Beyer(#3 MIA)
0.5: Kyle Kalis (T3, APP), Ben Braden (T3, APP)
Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week.
For the single individual best moment.
This was a one yard run but let us sit and savor the fact that even against a terrible defense Michigan had a touchdown that looked like this.
Honorable mention: Jake Butt shakes free for a fake screen(!) touchdown, something we haven't seen since Hoke's arrival. Jourdan Lewis runs a guy's fade for him, picks off a ball thrown too far inside. Dennis Norfleet and the KO unit execute a right-sided return on a kick to the left out to the 50. Derrick Green breaks backside and breaks a tackle for a 20-yard gain.
Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.
AppSt: Derrick Green rumbles for 60 yards.
MIA: Derrick Green scores a goal line touchdown without being so much as touched.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
Worst. Event. Ever. This Week.
Devin Funchess standing on the sideline because Michigan threw him a bubble screen halfway through the fourth quarter of a 31-0 game.
Honorable mention: Delay of game ack ack ack, Gardner interception (deflected, FWIW), kickoff mishap, Darboh fumble, various early runs that didn't go anywhere.
AppSt: Devin Gardner dares to throw an incomplete pass.
ND: Countess nowhere to be found on fourth and three.
Miami: You did what to Funchess now when?
[After the JUMP: getting it together, strangling the opposing offense, and goodbye gun.]
FORMATION NOTES: We're a… shotgun spread offense with personnel exactly like Rich Rodriguez's preferred 1 RB, 1 blocky/catchy, 3 WR?
We were in this game. Take off… er… put everyone in identical uniforms and don't check to see which team has the 6'5" giant at WR and you would have no idea which team was which based on presnap alignments. Excluding short yardage and two snaps inside the Michigan 5, Michigan had 49 shotgun snaps, five from the pistol, 7 in ace and zero I-Form.
This wasn't quite as WR heavy as that would imply as you can see Kerridge split to flanker in the above shot, something that happened half a dozen times. But… yeah, it looked like a callback to 2010 minus non-scramble QB runs, of which there was one.
Michigan deployed Kerridge all over; here he's the H-back.
And they deployed a few instances of what I call "Pistol FB," which indicates there's a dude next to Gardner and a TE.
Michigan ran a version of this where the "FB" was Norfleet, once from the pistol and once from the gun. Norfleet also motioned to the backfield for a two-back look.
Now if the next time Michigan uses my preferred offensive style if they could just score some points that would be cool.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Line was Cole/Magnuson/Miller/Glasgow/Braden the whole way. Gardner QB obviously; Green was the starting RB and vaguely the top guy, with Smith getting close to equal time and Hayes getting some third down snaps.
WR was a rotation between Funchess, Darboh, Chesson, and Norfleet with nobody else getting in IIRC. Hill and Williams saw almost all the TE snaps save a handful Butt got early; Kerridge also played H-back frequently.
[After THE JUMP: why don't you try running INTO the hole this time?]
Frank Clark, Jake Ryan, Dennis Norfleet
Could you guys talk about the receivers as a group beyond Devin Funchess and what you guys feel like you can give to this team?
Dennis Norfleet: “We’ve become one. Everybody expects everything from one another. We do things as a group so when one makes a play we all make a play. That’s how coach Heck[linski]’s got us and that’s how we’re going to remain throughout the year.”
Dennis, what’s your perception on how people perceive you? Is it as a big play guy, someone who can score at a moment’s notice or are you much more than an explosive player? What else can you bring to the table other than that lightning quickness?
DN: “My role on the team…I know that I’m a guy that can bring spark and that makes everybody happy so I’m just being the teammate that can get everybody going [and] to bring fire. That’s what I do. So if I can continue on doing that to get everybody to be happy and to let them know that the game can go our way at any time then that’s what I can do.”
Frank or Jake, you guys seemed to find more success stopping the run as opposed to getting to the pass. Is that just something that Golson might have been doing differently or that you guys were more prepared for with the run?
Jake Ryan: “That’s just something that we’ve got to work on, the pass game, more. Creating havoc for the quarterback. The run game we played pretty well but we’ve also got to focus on the pass game. Getting more blitzes in and getting more guys to the quarterback is really going to create a different atmosphere for him and create havoc for him.”
[More after THE JUMP]
file because I need to remember to shoot landscape
A number of players commented on the offensive side about how they enjoy having you on the sideline being able to communicate during the game. How did you think that went? Just talk in general about the pluses and minuses of being there.
“Well, you know, one of the biggest things when you’re down on the field you get a much better feel for the players, their state of mind. You can look them right in the eyes and get a feel for where you think you’re at from a mental standpoint and one of the things you do lose, you don’t get the visual effects you can see from upstairs. So, it is important and great communication from the guys in the box. Our staff did a great job, and that was something we talked about going in to the game and went back and talk about it yesterday. How we can do things better, what we did well just as far as a communication standpoint from the field to the box and vice versa.”
Against Appalachian State in the second quarter you’re already up by 35. Knowing that Notre Dame’s coming up do you kind of limit the playbook a little bit to save things for this week?
“As with any game we go in with a game plan and go in to execute the game plan as best we possibly can. Obviously we weren’t going to reinvent the wheel or do anything we hadn’t planned or talked about doing so we stuck with the game plan throughout.”
With coach VanGorder, you’ve gone against him before, you were at Alabama and he was at Auburn. Talk about that and obviously the personnel is different but how you might both be inside each other’s heads a little more than typical.
“Brian’s an outstanding coach. I have a great deal of respect for him. If you look at his track record and what he’s done throughout his career he’s an outstanding football coach sp obviously he presents a lot of challenges for you and that’s why we’ve been in the film room buried all day trying to find a nugget here or there to give us an advantage.”
What were your thoughts on the new look offensive line and especially Mason Cole and how he took his first college game in stride?
“I thought Mason did a nice job. Talked about it a little bit last week, nothing’s too big for him. He’s a young player and we knew that going into the game there were going to be some things that happened and obviously the one sack that occurred, but it’s not about the sack, it’s how you react to it. We talk to our guys a lot about ‘play the next play’ and it’s not about whether the play before was a great play or a bad play because it really doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant now. Thought he did an outstanding job, very focused, very level-headed. Played a good football game.”
Brady said he wanted a little more precision out of the offense going into the Notre Dame game. What does need to be fine tuned or improved going into this weekend?
“What doesn’t need to be improved, I guess, would be the question. We’ve got a long way to go. I hit on it a little bit last week. Consistency in performance. Our ability to perform at a high level each and every day. We’re not there yet. We play well in stretches and at times we don’ do things the way we need to do them so we’ll get back to the practice field tomorrow and it’s important that we have another great work of practice and get better each and every time we go out.”
There was some talk in the preseason about maybe the defense holding things up while the offense developed. You didn’t want to hear that. Did you use that for motivation, and was the first game important in terms of your guys proving a point about being able to move the football on the ground?
“Every game’s important. Every play’s important. It’s about our players and we talked about our youth. Every time we go out it’s important that we focus and get better. I said it last week, we’re doing things better and some days it doesn’t look like it and you say, ‘wow, that was a tough practice’ or ‘that wasn’t the way we wanted things to go’ and then you go in and evaluate and you say ‘we did get better in this area.’ I talked about it, it’s going to be about us continuing to grow and developing that consistency to do it well on a day-to-day basis.”
[After THE JUMP: Devin Funchess hyperbole or just Devin Funchess eeeeeeeeee?]
file because I need to remember to shoot landscape next time
News bullets and other items:
- Jabrill Peppers was held out of the second half to immediately receive treatment
- Yet it was not classified as a boo-boo
- Delano Hill, Graham Glasgow, and Peppers are all expected to be available against Notre Dame
- Kyle Kalis’ back is fine
- Hoke said Ray Taylor may have played his best game at Michigan against Appalachian State
- Hoke took Devin Funchess off special teams. Funchess got mad, so Hoke put him back on
- Hoke said there’s a plan for how to use Glasgow
- All of the coaches mentioned a plan. Hoke said it’ll be a good one. No one cared to share what it was.
“Number one, thanks for coming out. It was good to get the win last week. I think one thing was, part of that was that the crowd was into it. I think there was a lot of energy. The students, I know our guys feed off that so it was a great energy throughout the whole game. That always helps you as a football team.
“We need to build off of what we did on Saturday and continue to get better and improve offensively, defensively, and in the kicking game. Offensively, we have to be more precise in the precision in our passing game. That’s one thing that coming out that the offensive coaches and Doug [Nussmeier] really felt that the precision needed to be better. That’s mechanics, route running, the spacing that you need to have.
“The interior of the defensive front needs to be better. They got some yardage in there as far as through the middle of the defense. Some of it’s just fits, some of it’s not getting off blocks. That’s going to be a real emphasis and needs to be. And then winning the fourth quarter’s always huge and we didn’t do that as a team when you look at points in the fourth quarter. Those things we’ve got to do a better job. Turnover battle- we turned the one over, didn’t get any turnovers. You know, you don’t want to play football that way. You want to be on the plus side of that if you’ve got a chance to win so that being said those are things we need to do. We’ve moved to a new opponent, obviously. It’s one of the great rivalries in football and we’re excited about it.”
Can you talk about how the offensive line graded out on film and will we see any changes this week?
“Well, the guys up front all did some real good things and did some things they’ve got to do a better job of. We’ll have a plan for what we want to do this week.”
With Jabrill [Peppers], it didn’t look like he came out in the second half. What was the reason for that and this week are you going to limit him at all?
“He’s been in there all morning getting treatment. We haven’t started school yet. We decided- I made a decision at half time because they could start treating it right then not to come out in the second half. You know, [instead of being] in a boot on the sideline start the process of healing. So we’re excited and we’ll evaluate every day but he’s working hard to get better.”
You mentioned interior defense. Have you guys had a chance to look at Notre Dame’s running backs at all?
“Yeah. We started that yesterday, yeah. I think that they rushed the ball pretty well against Utah State. I think that have two backs that are a little bit similar and one that’s a bigger bruiser guy and they ran the ball pretty well.”
So with Jabrill would you say he’s a question mark for Saturday?
“I don’t think it’ll be a question mark. I think he’ll be ready to play.”
Did he go yesterday with you guys?
You mentioned the offensive line. Where does Graham [Glasgow] settle in here?
“Well, we’ve got a plan for it and we’ll go through the week.”
Do you want to divulge what that is?
[After THE JUMP: evaluating the defense, scouting Notre Dame, and the inevitable Nussmeier-on-the-sidelines questions]